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Thread: Cheap DIY Aero Bar Roof Racks!

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    Member 23027's Avatar
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    Cool Cheap DIY Aero Bar Roof Racks!

    Hey guys!

    Mirage owner from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.

    I have owned a 2 door Yaris in the past, which I fell in love with! I had a lot of fun maximizing efficiency from a super small compact hatchback. One of those necessary things was a pair of roof racks. I rocked a really decent pair of OEM Toyota roof racks, which are very rare actually. Stumbled upon them on craigslist, they fit awesome and had an aero style oval bar shape that worked great. You can fit all kinds of things on the racks that you normally couldn't put inside (or at least would have to painfully jam it in there, potentially damaging interior parts...) and there are cool options to customize the rack to suit your taste, and also to show off your sporty side a bit (rad stickered up wind fairings!)

    Recently as of buying a new Mirage, I was looking to re-live that former functional Yaris. The only thing that seems to be made specifically for the mirage are the round tube Yakimas or square tube and maybe aero bar Thule, with the right foot packs. Basically what I didn't like about either of those options are price, although probably worth it... But more to me I didn't like that they are straight bars that sit on top of foot packs. They also stick out a little wider than the foot packs, so to me it doesn't look that great. Don't get me wrong, they are fantastic and top notch quality which to some people is the most important thing. So I decided to look around. I found some eBay universal aero roof racks that actually looked very similar to the Toyota ones I used to have on the Yaris. The weight rating is 150lbs which is more than what I need.

    I decided to go for them and see what they could do. Measured and it seemed that they might actually fit... They were only 90 USD so how could I go wrong with that. I went for the smallest width listed which was 43".









    When I received them, they seemed fairly decent. Light weight aluminum, the footings appeared to be sturdy enough for my liking. These bars have an adjustment of up to almost 6 inches on both sides. The Mirage needed them to be as narrow as they could go though. They also come with 3 different lengths of metal tabs that grab the door sill to hold them in place. They also had a locking key system, anti-theft! I took them home and built them on my table, took them outside to see how they would attach and had to conclude that these were too wide to properly mount on the car. The feet can articulate to compensate for roof slope etc but these were just too wide. The tabs that drop down to hold onto the door sill were not close to where they need to be. I wasn't ready to give up yet though.





    I attempted to keep the racks the same width and try to modify the holding tabs. Long story short, they did not pan out. I almost opted to have them cut and welded shorter, but decided this was not likely to solve the actual problem. The actual problem was that the feet for the racks were sitting on the very edge of the car, and I figured with too much weight these could even slide down and off the car. Where it SHOULD be sitting is either on top of the black joint/strip that joins the roof and door panel together or at least as close to that as possible on the inside.



    At this point I had taken apart and studied the mechanism that allows the bars to be lengthened/shortened. I realized that with a little bit of work and good measuring, that I could cut the bars down and notch them in a way that they would work for this car.



    So what I did after some trial and error, was take the SECOND longest aka the middle length of the three provided holding tabs... And I placed them just by themselves in each door jamb where the roof rack mounting points are. There is a little dot that indicated dead center of that lip. I placed them in there and shut the doors closed to give them their natural best position. This is where I started my measurement. I measured for each bar, the distance between the ends of those tabs. There is an "L" shape to them and a small hole in the end that a screw goes into to tension the bars. Measured from the edge of the driver side to the end of the passenger side. Same on the rear. I noticed that they actually happened to be different widths when I did this, didn't really notice until I did that but the cars roof gets wider towards the rear. It was only I think 3 inches, but clearly if I had taken a measurement of the front and then decided to cut that length for both bars, I would have screwed myself over. Measure twice, cut once!!

    In my advanced state of focus to get this finished (I was in the zone) I didn't bother to take many photos of the entire process (sorry! dirty hands etc.) But I think you will get the idea from my description how this is accomplished with the few photos.

    Took the feet off each end of the bars, removed the rubber noodle looking thing that sits inside the top center accessory channel, made my measurements and got to work. Used an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel to cut the ends. Filed them smooth and then what I needed to do was re-drill the little notches put in there for the adjustment hook to be able to grab on them. If you don't make this little notch, you can still put the bars on with the feet but when you tighten the tabs they will pull the feet out and separate from the roof bar. This is really unsafe, and must NOT be left this way. Because of the cost of these, they are actually quite easy to fully disassemble (no specialty hardware/tools needed, not sealed units just cheap and quick to build) Awesome! Did a full tear down on one of the foot packs to find out my distance from the end of the roof bar to where this little notch needed to be for the small hook inside the foot pack to latch onto to secure the foot pack to the bar. Something like 2.5 or 3 inches, not very far. There are 2 other drilled parts to these bars, none of them needed to be redone.



    DO NOT FORGET which side of the bar you are working with when you are making these notches. The roof bars are curved and can only be put on one side up. They also have a channel on the top side center that runs along the entire bar for mounting accessories that utilize that channel. Just pay attention you don't drill into that side... Only the bottom! The little notch was maybe 3mm wide and 1/4" long. It's a vertical line. You can see in this photo I have of the cutoff ends. From the factory, there are like 10 notches. This is where you get your adjustment to make the bars wider or shorter. For my purpose, I was measuring them exactly where they needed to be so I only needed one notch for each foot pack to grab onto.

    My method of recreating this notch was to measure exactly where the notches are located by measuring my cutoff pieces, and then on the bar using a drill bit that fits inside the factory cut notches to drill my first center hole. I then drilled one at the top of where the notch should be, and one at the bottom. So I ended up with 3 vertical holes all the same distance from the edge of the roof bar. Then slowly, patiently and carefully I put the drill but inside the holes drilled and while running the drill I started to angle the drill bit towards the other 2 holes so that it began to cut away the aluminum. More thoroughly, If I was in the top drilled hole, I would angle the butt end of the drill bit inside the drill downwards, forcing the sides of the drill bit to start shaving the aluminum away until it broke through the other hole I drilled. Then I ran the bit through until the hole was cleaned up enough that looked close enough to how the OEM notches looked. I then test fit the foot packs on with the latch to see if it worked, on one of them I had to lengthen the notch slightly so the hook inside the foot pack would properly grab. The other channel on the underside is for some little plastic bit that you can turn in place. I scratched my head thinking about it and honestly have no idea what its purpose is, so I decided to just leave it out and not waste my time trying to drill a channel to fulfill it's useless purpose.

    Just prior to mounting them on the car, I decided to trim the rubber coating off the holding tabs because the rubber although as protective as it is to prevent your car from nasty scratches, was applied very thick and I experienced excessive force needed to open and close the doors from both the inside and the outside. It puts too much pressure on the latches and the door. I didn't feel comfortable doing that. So I cut the rubber coating off just where they tuck into the door jamb, and wrapped it with a couple layers of electrical tape. This worked great! The doors are MUCH happier now, and so am I!





    Anywho. Tightened everything down, gave it the good gorilla ape shake-push-pull in anger test, and was pretty happy! Sturdy and tight. The racks come with a rubber pad that go onto the feet, they aren't really rubber. Feels more like a cheap flexible plastic, which kept sort of falling off and folding under itself while I was trying to mount them. But they sort of do their job I guess. Only real gripe I have.







    Happy with the look, happy with the performance, I don't hear ANY whistling! However I also put on a wind fairing. Just a universal one that was actually meant for a roof BASKET to screw into but I zap-strapped it to mine and put some flexible rubber hose that I cut the length of to slip onto the bottom so it doesn't scratch the roof. I thought about painting them black, but will see. May be a summer project. Might actually paint them white to match the car













    So there you have it. For $90 USD and a little bit of TLC you can have some decent looking racks! I would rate this project as medium in difficulty. A novice could tackle this as long as you are thorough and know how to use a tape measure. Take your time and you won't have any issues. You will need some basic tools, an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel, black electrical tape, a drill with some drill bits of various sizes, exacto knife, a file, and some good tunes.

    One thing to look out for with those who have the rear hatch top mounted spoiler, is that when you have some things in the racks you could potentially scratch/damage that depending how long your carried item is. My snowboard for example will hit the hatch spoiler when it's near full extension. Same with the hockey sticks I carry up top in the ski racks Canadians eh? And yes I normally carry something Tim Hortons in the car.


    Last edited by 23027; 02-15-2017 at 05:40 AM.

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to 23027 For This Useful Post:

    Eggman (02-14-2017),inuvik (02-15-2017),MightyMirageMpg (02-14-2017),Top_Fuel (02-14-2017)

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    Senior Member MightyMirageMpg's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Longest first post since we upgraded from carrier pigeons.

    I'm in for the pics, love a good diy

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    Epic first post! Thanks for the detailed write-up, and welcome to the forum.

    Now we need pictures and links for your project. Oh, and don't forget to make a garage entry.
    Welcome!

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 48.7 mpg (US) ... 20.7 km/L ... 4.8 L/100 km ... 58.5 mpg (Imp)


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    Member 23027's Avatar
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    Threw some photos up, I will put them in order and go through them so they don't need to be clicked on to have a larger size in a bit! Valentines day priorities



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